You may have noticed that I haven’t bothered writing restaurant reviews for what must be years now… This is mainly because I don’t really get out that much these days (well not past 6pm anyway), and if I do I need to factor in all manner of tedious shit involving buggy space and crayons and even then I usually end up having to leave before the main course and morosely take what I can home. Gone are the days when I used to vicariously dine out at least twice a week, these days an exciting meal out tends to more often than not involve the express lift up to floor 1 at Westfield Stratford interspersed with panic-stricken shouting after my two year old as he runs away for the 15th time and many, many fun-filled visits to the parents room.
So when I do make a rare foray “out” for food I like to have a pretty cast iron guarantee it’s going to be worth it, and time and again I find myself back at this place. Despite only being down the road in Shoreditch, I wasn’t particularly excited about the initial PR invitation to try Inito, everything about it’s facade shouted “naff burritos” at me. The menu did little to allay my impending sense of doom and the “build your own roti” looked like a very bad sign indeed.
So imagine my amazement at being served a dish of butter chicken fully complex, smoky and rich minus the usual paddling pool of grease. Or generous sticks of lollipop chicken, joyfully crunchy and perfectly spiced. A potato dhosa was a lacy, delicate affair, text book perfect flavours, but a little on the small side. The lamb biryani was nothing short of proper Indian wedding-grade excellent, each individual little dish comes with it’s own dough seal, which is cracked open table side to reveal glistening moist perfect grains of rice, swollen with curried lamby juices, tender, collapsing gems of meat within. But the dish that showed a real expert at the helm was that most common of street dishes the good old aloo chaat.
So often this can be a stale, terribly balanced affair, too heavy a hand with the chilli or the tamarind shouting everything else down. Here each element was fully respected so every mouthful of crisp sev, meltingly soft potato, tart tamarind and sharp lime amounted to nothing short of pure magic. Oh and the pani puri’s pretty good too. Cardamom and rosewater kulfi is homemade on the premises and the buttery rotis have been tandoor fresh on each of my visits (the last one was the fourth – let’s just say it’s been a dangerous discovery).
Duff notes were funnily enough those roti wraps, which were a bit on the dry, claggy side and weirdly under-spiced, so best to avoid those. Also, despite having a great sauce going for it, the bits of paneer in the paneer makhani were very much on the titchy side.
Head chef Saurav Nath is ex Gymkhana, and it really does show in the cooking (but thankfully not the prices, which are an absolute steal). There are always other Asian families eating there and even my shockingly talented friend Asma Khan was impressed, and what she doesn’t know about Indian food frankly isn’t worth knowing.
31 Bell Lane
London, E1 7LA
020 7247 7145